My all-time favorite football movie is The Replacements, starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman, among others. It’s a fictional story about a players’ strike in the middle of the football season. To finish the season, the team uses replacement players. It’s a great study in the difference between effective and ineffective team leadership and teamwork.
What do teams who work together well have in common? Here are a few tips gleaned from that movie.
Understand roles. Teams who work well together have a common understanding of the role each person plays – what they bring to the team. Each person knows who they can count on to do a particular job. In The Replacements, each team member was brought onto the team for particular qualities they had. No one worried about another team member’s “shortcomings”; they focused on what that person was there to do.
Give 100%. Everyone does their job on time, thoughtfully, to the BEST of their ability. For a team to work effectively, everyone needs to know they can count on each person to fulfill their responsibilities because it’s best for the team.
When individuals do tasks in their own time, or don’t pay attention to details and have to redo work, it becomes difficult for the team to trust that individual. How can there be forward movement when there is always a flag on the play and the team loses ground? Will that person really put in full effort to help the team move toward the goal?
Create synergy. Making progress is not always easy. It’s important to encourage one another, problem solve together, and listen carefully and deeply to each other. Differences of opinion are going to happen. The beauty of working within a team is that we each have different perceptions. In combination, those perceptions create a complete picture of the barriers and options from all sides, and can result in new and better ideas for reaching the goal.
The main character in The Replacements, Falco, encouraged teamwork and cooperation within his team by accepting each person, even with their “faults”, and modeling how to work with and appreciate each other. He acknowledged and used the gifts of each person to create the momentum they needed to win. He solicited the insights each player could provide from their vantage point on the field. They began trusting each other and making decisions together that led them down the field toward the goal.
Wins for an individual are wins for the team. Competition among teammates is one of the biggest reasons teams fail. Instead, view individual wins as wins for the team. Celebrate those individual successes. Dance together in the end zone when someone reaches a goal. After all, it’s a win for the team!
Is your team struggling for the win? Are your team players “off sides” and you’re not sure how to get them turned around and headed for the goal line? Are the different generations in your team lining up on opposing sides, heading for a collision? Let Joy coach your team to the end zone. Victory is sweetest when it’s shared with others!